Ecomorphological and phylogenetic controls on sympatry across extant bats

Jeff J. Shi, Erin P. Westeen, Nathan T. Katlein, Elizabeth R. Dumont, Daniel L. Rabosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Aim: Macroecological patterns of sympatry can inform our understanding of how ecological and evolutionary processes govern species distributions. Following speciation, both intrinsic and extrinsic factors may determine how readily sympatry occurs. One possibility is that sympatry most readily occurs with ecological divergence, especially if broad-scale co-occurrence is mediated by niche differentiation. Time since divergence may also predict sympatry if hybridization and gene flow lead to the collapse of species boundaries between closely related taxa. Here, we test for ecological and phylogenetic predictors of sympatry across the global radiation of extant bats. Location: Global. Taxon: Bats (Order Chiroptera). Methods: We used a combination of linear mixed-modelling, simulations and maximum-likelihood modelling to test whether phylogenetic and ecomorphological divergence between species predict sympatry. We further assess how these relationships vary based on biogeographic realm. Results: We find that time since divergence does not predict sympatry in any biogeographic realm. Morphological divergence is negatively related to sympatry in the Neotropics, but shows no relationship with sympatry elsewhere. Main conclusions: We find that bats in most biogeographic realms co-occur at broad spatial scales regardless of phylogenetic similarity. Neotropical bats, however, appear to co-occur most readily when morphologically similar. To the extent that pairwise phylogenetic and morphological divergence reflect ecological differentiation, our results suggest that abiotic and environmental factors may be more important than species interactions in determining patterns of sympatry across bats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1560-1570
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Chiroptera
  • ecomorphology
  • evolutionary ecology
  • macroecology
  • macroevolution
  • sympatry


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